Blog Archives

#FrankieWIP Editing and New Digital Illustration!

Frankie Av

Editing of Emergence is going well! Took a couple of days off writing to draw, and I’ve included it in this video! Tell me what you think of it! It’s also under the video 😉
It took me a couple of days and I created it on my Cintiq and Artrage 😀

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F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

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#SundayReview: Kalopsiad (Our Blog)

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Every now and again, Frankie and I sit down and talk about how the blog is doing, and where we want to go with it. Today, we’ve decided to discuss this with you through this video. Seems appropriate, as it is a kind of review.


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

Check out our #SundayReview category every Sunday to find out what we are reading, watching, or learning about storytelling in all of its forms!

 

#SamWIP: Back on Track with the Blog

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Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#WeCreate Festive Katie!

Frankie Av

For the first time since I drew Robogirl, I decided to take a short break from writing and draw a new picture. I’d been a little poorly and was feeling sorry for myself, so drew this to cheer myself up!

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You might recognise the character in the picture if you have read my first book; The Scientist’s Daughter. Katie, the yellow-eyed doll from the story, has always tugged at my imagination. She’s become somewhat of a muse, prompting me to draw her quite frequently when I doodle. This year she wanted to be drawn in a festive setting, and I can’t ever say no to her little self. I actually have a full sized, hand-made version of her which I made a couple of years ago. Maybe I’ll buy her a little Santa costume and sit her under the tree this year 😉 If I do, I’ll post a photo 😀

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#WeCreate NaNoWriMo Update and Ponies Galore!

Frankie Av

Hello everyone!

I completed my fifty-thousand word goal for NaNoWriMo a few days ago. I’m continuing to write as Emergence isn’t quite finished yet, but I am very happy with my progress.

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The injury to my hand appeared to get better with the heat and splinting. I felt it was in a good way so I took off my splint day before yesterday and managed to worsen the healing injury. As a result, typing is slower than usual! I’m finding even the most tiny of things difficult as the hand is such a complex joint, and you forget how much you use your hands–even your non-dominant one! But, I’m getting there!

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I’ve received most of the My Little Ponies for my collection which I ordered this past week and a half. Very pleased with all of them, and even included a few G2 and Equestria type, even though they are not my favourites. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I hate Equestria and think G2 ponies are ugly, but they came in a couple of bundles so I have them as part of a more fuller collection. (Though, I am getting to like the G2 a little XD) I’ve lost count of how many I have in my collection. It was over 700 last year, but I sold some so I need to do a recount of all the ponies. I bought the little houses and castles and nursery for display purposes. I have been collecting these for years and don’t have a single pony on display!

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As for drawing, I haven’t even attempted to draw a thing for a few weeks. I did buy a My Little Pony adult colouring in book, purely as a part of the collection you understand….and I coloured some of that in while I was unable to type! Colouring in is almost as relaxing as sticking stickers into my sticker albums XD

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My attempt at colouring in! I think I need better pens XD

That’s it for now! I hope you are all well and enjoying the weekend! I’m away to write for a while 😀 Bye for now!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

Frankie and Sam are Winning NaNoWriMo!

Frankie Av

Hi all, Frankie here!
I know the blog has not been regularly updated as usual, but as you are aware, Sam and I are taking part in NaNoWriMo this month. It is always a busy time for us; writing for hours every day, trying to get the first drafts of our next books ready!
I’m pleased to say it will not take the entire month to do this. We are already at the forty-thousand word mark and both of us hope to crash through the fifty-thousand word barrier soon. This does not mean that either book will be finished at this point, but it does mean we are closer to completing our first drafts! At present, my NaNoWriMo word count is 40,359 words. I believe Sam is just over 45. With a full tally of approximately eighty-thousand words for Emergence, it is well over halfway written! I am managing to get at least a chapter a day written, and on good days I’m managing up to four!

Unfortunately, I had a fibromyalgia flare up a few days ago. For the first time in a few years it actually left me quite immobilized. I was unable to walk properly, or move easily and had to take a day or two away from writing. It also resulted in my left hand seizing up so I couldn’t write as much as I would have liked. Thankfully, the main symptoms have began to disappear so I am back on my feet and raring to go, but my left hand remains terribly painful and does not function well.

For the life of me I couldn’t remember injuring it at all, but today I remembered I caught my hand between trolleys in the supermarket at the end of last week. It jammed tight when someone pushed their trolley into the bay at the same time I did mine! I had to tug my hand free, but at the time it just smarted a little and didn’t cause me any problems so I thought no more on it. Well, it sure is causing me problems now! There is a possibility I strained dorsal carpometacarpal ligaments, which would account for the fact I am unable to move my hand in a normal range of motion, as well as the odd painful bumps on the back of my hand. I’m treating it with painkillers, heat/cold and splinting. Because of this I am still able to type a little. It’s a good job I’m right handed! I won’t let it stop me writing Emergence, that’s for sure!

Anyway, that’s where we are at the moment, and why there’s not been frequent updates! Hopefully our normal schedule will resume after November, but we will be in editing mode by then, so will still be busy. Massive thanks to everyone who is supporting us, we really appreciate it!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

#FrankieWIP Halfway There!

Frankie Av

I hit the 25k mark yesterday on NaNoWriMo! That brings the tally for Emergence at approximately sixty-five thousand and just over halfway through writing!
Music by Kevin MaCleod at Incomputech.com

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi  MALEVOLENCE

#FrankieWIP Houston, We Have a Problem…

Frankie Av

Sorry for the way I sound, but my throat is really sore. Between fibro-fatigue, catching the cold and a probable rewrite on the horizon, this week isn’t going too well!

Music by Kevin MacLeod at Incomputech.com

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi  MALEVOLENCE

#OurWorld Anti-Slavery Day

Frankie Av

 

Back in 2010, the UK government created this day in order to raise awareness of modern day slavery and hopefully in doing so, help prevent it. Many people believe slavery is simply an evil of the past. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Slavery today takes many more forms than the often thought of black man forced to serve the white man. Of course, this still does occur, but there are also modern twists on slavery insidious enough as to become invisible to the eyes of the ignorant.  

It may surprise some to hear that human trafficking is, in fact, a form of slavery. Women and children and yes, sometimes even men, forced to work as sex toys in the seedy underground of society. It may also surprise you that fake marriages can be a form of slavery. As is domestic servitude, coerced criminal work, drug mules, and forced labour no matter how it is enforced. Often the people in these situations find themselves abused in many ways. Beaten into submission, psychologically tortured, threatened with death of themselves or loved ones, raped and abused; this list isn’t exhaustive.

When these facts are taken into consideration, it is estimated that up to 45 million people are held in modern slavery around the world, of which 14,000 reside in the UK alone. Many of these people have been forced from their homes and even their countries, whether by subterfuge or kidnapping or even facilitated through bribes and debts.

Earlier in the year, I read about two men who were kidnapped after sleeping rough then forced to work for a family for up to 26 years. Threatened with violence, these men suffered long and punishing working hours with little hope of escape. Poorly cared for and forced to live in squalid conditions, one man even developed osteoporosis as a result of malnutrition. These were vulnerable people living in the same area as their captors, so not all people living in slavery are from other countries. This happened in Wales, in the United Kingdom.  

I have often asked you to try to imagine being an animal trapped in a cage its entire life and what that must be like. Some people can not imagine this or even attempt to do so, as to them the suffering of an animal is of little or no consequence. But, if you can, try to imagine being a person–man, woman or child–waking each day into an abusive situation. Imagine being forced to work for no pay and little food. Forced to clean the house of your captors, launder their clothes and bedding. Your worldly possessions consist of only the unwashed old clothes on your body, and you sleep on their sofa or floor, not even afforded the luxury of privacy or even a room. Imagine being forced to have sex with multiple strangers who care not a jot for you, all for money you will never see. Imagine being poisoned by drugs and words, trapped in locked rooms and even cages. Imagine being threatened every day with death and beaten within an inch of your life.

If you can imagine such an existence and understand just how awful it would be, then you might understand what these 45 million people are going through every day. If this is the case, you can and should do something to prevent it or stop it.

There are signs to look out for of slavery and human trafficking. If you see any of the signs, or anything in any way suspicious, report it and you might save some poor tortured soul from a terrible life. You can report such things anonymously if you wish, but please do report it.

You can find more information on modern day slavery and ways to fight against it here on the Anti-Slavery Day website

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

#SundayReview Lee Child and Jack Reacher

Frankie Av

I apologize for the fact this was not uploaded yesterday. I attended a family get together and then I displaced a bone in my wrist and had to reset and rest it. It’s fine, happens quite frequently as I broke my wrist a few years ago. I popped the bone back in and wore my splint for the rest of the day. It’s all good now! XD Anyway. This week I’d like to review the book Worth Dying For by Lee Child. Actually, it’s not really just a look at that one book, more a review of Jack himself.

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Author, Lee Child, created Jack Reacher as the lead character in a long running series of action novels. Next month will see the 21st Jack Reacher instalment–Night School, and I can’t wait to read it! Two of the books have been made into major movies, the first entitled Jack Reacher was based on the novel, One Shot. The second, due for release this month, is based on the book Never Go Back and is one of my favorite stories of the Jack Reacher series. While some dismiss the movies because they can’t accept Tom Cruise as Jack, I rather enjoyed the first instalment. As I often do with the books, there are some things you have to just believe, in order to enjoy them to their fullest. I bought all the books in paperback then replaced them with hardbacks when I fell in love with them, and Jack.

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Jack Reacher is an ex military cop. He served his time in the army as his father did before him. Blessed with a large athletic build and lightning reflexes, he is a stubborn man–one who seldom does anything outwith his own decision. He is a drifter, a traveller and he never stops roaming and hitchhiking across America. He goes to places which interests him then moves on to the next–but, not before finding trouble somewhere along the way. He has very few belongings, no bags or cases travel with him. The clothes on his back are never laundered, they are replaced with brand new store bought items when he feels they need replacing–usually after a few days wear. He stays wherever he can get a room and isn’t too picky about where he lays his head so long as there is a constant flow of good, strong coffee.

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No matter in what situation Jack finds himself, he always has a way out of it. Whether he is picked up by police or lands himself in the middle of a gun fight, Jack just needs to use that intelligent brain of his and brute force to find a way out of the situation. He has faced many a villain in his time. From mob bosses to serial killers, Jack has met and fought them all. He has survived bullets, bombs, crashes, falls, beatings and breaking of bones. The guy has scars all over his skin, one of which was caused by another soldier’s jaw bone which ripped open his stomach when the soldier was blown up in a bomb attack. Seriously, Jack is like the Wolverine of the Lee Child universe–you can beat him up, blow him up, and he will heal and come back angrier and stronger than before. He fights like a titan, delivering punches which could potentially tear the head off a person in reality. For many of the books, you have to regard Reacher–not as a man–but as a superhero, a man with preternatural powers and therefore read the books with some suspended judgement as they can at times be so out there in terms of believability. But this is what makes them so fun.

Lee Child created a character who is more human than any other human. Stronger and more capable than anyone he ever meets. He senses injustice like a dog smells food and often feels such righteous indignation over situations he stumbles over that he places himself in danger to right all wrongs. The man is larger than life and bigger than most. A monster to some and a warrior angel to others.

But Reacher is still human and that is where the best of the books comes in.

The reason I chose Worth Dying For, is not only because it is one of my favorites, nor even because it’s one of only four in the series within an actual story arc, but because we get to see a slightly less God-like version of Jack.

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In the book previous–61 Hours– Jack was injured so badly he can barely use his arms. It was a miracle he survived that book at all. He is tired, worried, looking for a place to rest and recuperate. He meets a doctor in a bar of the new town he visits. The doc is stinking drunk when he receives a call from a woman who has a nose bleed. After saying he won’t attend, Reacher reminds the doctor of his moral obligation and oath as a practitioner, then eventually drives the man to the patient in the doctor’s own car.

So begins one of the darker Jack Reacher books. The villains in Worth Dying For are not clearly defined to begin with. We know they are bad in the way they treat the town’s folk. Selfish and vengeful for some misdeed handed to them many years previous. And they have the town’s folk fully controlled, with contracts and threats and their army of pumped-up bad boys.

Jack should just walk away, this is none of his business and he is in no condition to fight. But then, Jack often inserts himself into other people’s lives and business. How he gets away with it, I don’t know. He just does. Maybe he is just there at the right time and people accept his help because at that particular point in their lives they are on their last nerve and have nothing left to lose.

It takes Jack a while to uncover the truth, and when he does, it is a real doozy. Unlike most of the other Reacher novels, Worth Dying For has a truly dark and seedy tale. It is a tale which many people face every day, and one which everyone prays they never encounter. By the end of the book I held a new appreciation for Jack. I felt chills down my spine at what he had uncovered. It’s not often a book can make me question humanity in the way this one did. There is only one other of the Reacher series which affected me so much–Make Me, another one of my faves.

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Both these books took us to a whole other level of evil and Jack found himself almost over his head in trouble. His thought process is unquestionable, his righteousness undeniable, but he is not the larger-than-life unconquerable hero in either of them. He gets hurt, he hurts back. He falls behind then struggles to catch up. He makes mistakes and he makes others pay for them.

Jack is human, and not always a very nice one, nor a very healthy one. It’s almost sad to see Jack in such a way, but he really isn’t a nice guy. I certainly wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of an argument with him. So why do I like him so damned much? Why do the Jack Reacher novels sell so well? Why do so many love Jack and wish he was real?

Because, Jack is a superhero. He is larger than life. And no matter how unbelievable the stories might be, we need him to be the hero. Everyone loves a hero, even one as broken and damaged as Jack Reacher. Perhaps it’s because we wish there were more folk like him. Travelling warriors who will make wrongs right, and put the baddies out of commission. Like a larger, dirtier, better and human Littlest Hobo, (if you remember the old tv series) Jack just makes things, right. A large brutish thug with questionable morals who does the business no one else will dirty their hands with. A hero. A superman. This is why we love Jack Reacher so much, and why when a new book or movie of the series is about to be released, we all scramble to reread the books in time to catch up. 😉
You can read more about Jack and his creator Lee Child here on the official site. If you are interested in reading any of the Reacher series, I recommend starting with the first; Killing Floor. It is a good introduction to Jack, and you can travel with him as he wanders America in search of some sort of peace.

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE